We had over 112 inches of snow in the Northeast this winter and I believe that I shoveled at least 109 of them!
Sadly, for most who suffer but fortunately for the chiropractors and drug stores in town, shoveling snow causes the highest incidence of lower back injury in colder climates.
When you think about it snow is heavy and a shovel has a long handle meaning that all the weight is very far away from the strong core stabilizing muscles in your body, the ones whose job it is to push, bend, lift and throw.
Despite your possiblly massive upper body strength it is a weaker, strained core that becomes the culprit and causes the damage.
By the end of February I had learned many a lesson and thinking that you may also be able to apply them to spring gardening I want to share them:
* Start early and shovel frequently to prevent heavy build up
* Change hands every 3 bends to prevent repetitive stress on one side
* Shorten the length of the shovel you use to "shorten the lever" which makes the lifting easier.
* Use a strong but light shovel
* Use a metal shovel and avoid lifting by push the snow equally with both sides of your body to a designated depository
* Jump for 10 minutes on your AeroPilates reformer to ensure that your muscles are warm before you brave the cold temps and grueling task.
* Pace yourself
* When you lift make sure you bend your knees to squat with your feet apart and keep your back straight.
* Lift with your legs and do not bend at the waist
* Try to throw the snow in front and not to the side to avoid a twisting injury.
* Strengthen your core on your AeroPilates reformer with the daily Hundred,
* Lengthen your hamstrings with a daily Elephant series to keep your lower back free
* Strengthen your obliques with the Mermaid
* Pay attention to how you sit or drive to maintain a neutral spine and keep your postural muscles strong